Studying the process of assimilation gives you a perspective on the way your own culture came together. As multiple cultures grow together, the assimilation process refers to the transition of cultural traits, language acquisition and cultural identities from each group to the other. While assimilation can be a brutal and violent condition of forced integration, it can also be a peaceful combination of cultures, occurring naturally as societies grow to understand and accept each other.


Language assimilation refers to the integration of multiple dialects, languages or cultural phrases. Linguistic assimilation is divided into four distinct categories: progressive, a dominant language giving words or phrases to another group; regressive, a dominant language taking words or phrases from another group; reciprocal, two similar languages exchanging words or phrases between each other; and coalescence, two similar languages fully merging into a third distinct language. Language assimilation is often a byproduct of cultural assimilation, occurring when multiple societies begin to live closer to each other or as part of one another. One example of language assimilation occurred when the computer and technological boom integrated new words, phrases and technical terms into the basic languages of multiple social groups.


Structural assimilation refers to the integration of one society into the social customs, institutions and social groups of a host society. This occurs when a host society begins to accept the new culture as friends or neighbors or when a host society begins to recognize the rights of the integrating society. While structural assimilation sometimes requires years to occur, the appearance of this assimilation is a sign of social acceptance between differing societies. One example of structural assimilation occurred from the 1960s until the 1990s as women moved into political organizations, careers and sections of society, which they were previously banned from joining.


Marital assimilation refers to the integration of families and societies resulting from significant intermarriage. While the presence of marital assimilation points to the acceptance of individuals from both social groups to integrate cultures, it does not necessarily suggest a willingness to assimilate based on the overall social ideals of either society.


Identificational assimilation refers to the willingness of multiple social groups to self-identify -- choose to identify -- with a unified identity. To occur successfully, both groups require a third-party designation that both can accept. One example of this form of assimilation occurs when multiple social groups self-identify by a singular national identity, such as Americans.


Reciprocal assimilation refers to multiple social groups sharing a singular behavior or ideal, thereby forming a connection between the groups. This assimilation requires either a shared idea or a cultural shift between both groups, which identifies a singular objective. One example of this form of assimilation occurred after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when multiple social groups shifted their social views to a mutual anger against world terrorost institutions.


Civic assimilation refers to the connection of individuals within multiple social groups by a shared agreement or disagreement with specific civil policies. This assimilation requires political access for each social group and a willingness by each group to get involved with governing policies. One example of this form of assimilation occurs with the formation of political parties, where individuals assimilate into a larger group based on certain civic beliefs.